CALL FOR PAPERS: The question of skills in cross-border labor mobility

February 8, 2018


International Conference
September 20-21, 2018, Waseda University, Tokyo




In the knowledge-based world of the 21st century, human talent is seen to be the key to generating innovative, enterprising economies. Given labour shortages as a result of ageing local populations and the added complexity of low fertility rates, many countries have introduced new measures to (selectively) attract skilled migrants in the quest to augment their talent pools. While different countries have different experiences and degrees of success with attracting variously ‘skilled’ migrants, they also face comparative issues relating to categorizing, utilizing and integrating these migrants. This conference takes as a point of departure the notion that ‘skills’ and as such the idea of ‘skilled migrants’ are socially constructed categories shaped by immigration and labor policies, as well as public discourse. The principle question we would like to examine in this workshop is the way nation-states as well as migrants interpret and engage with the notion of skills.


With this seminar we aim for the following: 1) clarify the existing knowledge in the field and identify areas that need further inquiries. In particular, we contend that rationales of government’s skill categorization have yet been thoroughly investigated. How the migration policies impact on migrants’ deskilling or upskilling and their mobility across the labor market deserves much more scholarly attention. Therefore, 2) we aim to bring together scholars who critically engage with these questions in their own grounded research. In this way, we seek to question categorical thinking of skills and move the analysis to a processual approach in terms of understanding the acquisition, loss and utilization of skills. More specifically, 3) we seek to advance the research by bridging the gap between state-level conceptualizations of skills in policy-making and the way migrants themselves perceive, valorize and act on skills as a form of migration capital.


We invite submissions that engage with the following questions:

  1. Policy analysis: What are the policy directions and objectives in migration and labour policies aimed at attracting, retaining and integrating various ‘skill’ categories of migrants, and to what extent have they been successful? What can a comparison of the policies of different countries tell us about the conditions and contexts for success/failure?
  2. Skill utility: How do migrants engage with the notion of skills, when strategizing towards a particular migration destination? How do they project their mastery of skills and skill levels, and how are they assessed in relation to national skills categories? Is there wastage of skills, and how are skills mediated by factors that impose constraints on or create opportunities for migrants of particular backgrounds such as ethnicity, race or gender?
  3. Skill acquisition: How does migration create skills and other types of migration or mobility capital? We seek to explore and compare how migrants actively negotiate various skill categories, the way they engage with professional opportunities, and deal with social constraints and stereotypes that come with respective categories.
  4. Skill transfer and mismatch: What types of skills are transferrable? What are the extent of skill mismatches? Under what circumstance do skill mismatches occur?


We welcome submissions from all disciplines in the social sciences. While our focus is primarily Asia, we are also open to receiving abstracts based on groundbreaking research on other parts of the world. Since the conference aims to produce a collective publication, the article must be original, unpublished and not committed elsewhere. Please submit an abstract (300-500 words) that summarizes the arguments, methods and empirical basis. The deadline for submissions is 16 March 2018. Decisions will be made by 30 March 2018. Full papers (6,000-8,000 words) will be due by 1 September 2018.


This conference is sponsored by TGP-Waseda Global Asia Program. If accepted, presenters’ travel expenses will be covered by the conference organizers and accommodation at Waseda University will be provided.


If you have any questions, please email:


Find abstract submission form here: CFP-Skills Workshop_Waseda

Women on the Move: Migration, care work and health

December 30, 2017

The WHO has just issued a report in which our Editorial Coordinator and former Project Lead Sonya Michel was involved. 


Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:

“Ageing in late industrial and middle-income economies, combined with rising demographic dependency ratios and female labour force participation, has led to emerging care deficits in many developed and developing countries. Around the world, more women are entering the labour force, thus taking them away from traditional unpaid caring roles.

This report focuses largely on one population group: women migrant care workers who provide home-based personal care. However, many of the issues, and the next steps suggested here, also apply to other migrants and refugees – particularly women and girls – as well as to other socially excluded and marginalized groups engaged in paid and unpaid care work across the world. Without a doubt, women migrant care workers play an increasingly prominent role in securing and protecting the health status of others and are contributing both to health in the broadest sense and to health systems. Yet relatively little is known about their own health status, the health implications to their families of their out-migration, and the extent of their important contributions to health systems. Around the world, care workers are overwhelmingly female, and many are migrants. This report documents how, despite making a large contribution to global public health, they are exposed to many health risks themselves, while enjoying few labour market and health protections. The report also underscores that paid and unpaid care work is central to the broad health and well-being of individuals, their families and communities, as well as society at large.

Read the full report here.

Eldercare policies in East Asia and Europe: Mapping policy changes and variations and their implications

December 29, 2017

Eldercare policies in East Asia and Europe: Mapping policy changes and variations and their implications

Authors/editor(s): Ito Peng and Sue Yeandle

Eldercare policies in East Asia and Europe: Mapping policy changes and variations and their implications

Adequate and dignified care provision for frail elderly populations is becoming an urgent policy issue not only in high-income countries but also in many middle- and low-income ones. The growing demand for eldercare in many countries is driven by rapid demographic ageing as well as by changes in family patterns and gender relations, greater distanciation between generations, and institutional and ideational changes in relation to political economy and the meanings and practices of care.

This report documents and analyses varieties of eldercare policies, and their readjustments, in East Asia and Europe. It analyses changing social, economic and political contexts and their implications for eldercare and eldercare policies in 10 selected countries—China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom—that all have in common severe care deficits that will only amplify in the future, given their rapid population ageing, low fertility, rising female employment, and increased mobility and distanciation of families.

Policymakers in all the countries considered continue to try to manage the imperatives to address increasing public demand for care, maintain fiscal control over social and health-care expenditures, and respond to changes caused by population ageing and mobility. This has resulted in significant cross-national and cross-regional policy learning, innovations and experimentations, as governments adopt and adjust policy models from other locales to meet their needs.

This paper was produced for UN Women’s flagship report, Progress of the World’s Women 2018, to be released as part of the UN Women discussion paper series.

View online/download

Bibliographic information

Geographic coverage: Asia and the PacificEurope and Central AsiaChinaFinlandFranceGermanyJapanKorea, Republic ofSingaporeSpainTaiwan (province of China)United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Subject area(s): Ageing/older peopleEconomic empowermentHealthHealth care servicesSocial protection

Resource type: Case studiesDiscussion papers

Series: UN Women discussion paper series

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2017

Number of pages: ii + 67

ISBN/ISSN: 978-1-63214-104-0

Publishing entities: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

United Nations: Expert Group Meeting on Care and Older Persons

December 18, 2017

On December 5-7, a small group of international experts, including the Principal Investigator of the Gender, Migration and the Work of Care collaborative project, Ito Peng, met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York “to discuss and explore the issue of care for older persons and deepen understanding of the links between care and decent work, gender, labour migration and human rights, as well as their implications for social policy”.

Find more information, as well as papers, presentations and documents from the meeting here.

You can also directly download Ito Peng’s paper and presentation.

New postdoctoral fellows

December 14, 2017

Congratulations to our new Postdoctoral Fellows!

These promising scholars, working in Canada, Singapore, South Korea, and Australia will start their terms on the Gender, Migration and the Work of Care project in 2018, and will participate in a week-long seminar to be held in Toronto in January of 2019.


Meet the new postdoctoral fellows:

Yi-Chun Chien’s research explores how East Asian states negotiate their elder care provisions and border control, and how civil society mobilization and electoral politics have influenced on the migrant care workers’ labour rights and claims for membership. She will work at the University of Ottawa with André Laliberté .



Jiweon Jun investigates how care work is actually performed in different contexts in South Korea, and how the conditions of care work are related with the quality of care provision and the well-being of caregivers/recipients. She will be co-supervised by Professor Ito Peng, University of Toronto, and Professor Ki-Soo Eun, Seoul National University.




Sohoon Lee
’s areas of interest are migrant women in Asia and the dynamics between labour and women’s rights, migration laws and illegality, social movement and atypical forms of resistance. She will be working at the University of Toronto, Mississauga with Cynthia Cranford.




Alex Payette
’s (PhD) work focuses on local Confucian revival in urban and rural China, its influence on mobility, governance and on the issue of Care, with specific focus on the involvement of local Confucian groups in redefining care arrangements and care economics.. He will be working with André Laliberté at the University of Ottawa.



Chand Somaiah
‘s research looks at contemporary social reconstructions of motherhood among a first-generation im/migrant community across three sites in the Asia-Pacific. Research interests include carework, new cosmopolitanisms, transnationalism, gendered intimacies, emotions, kinwork and labour migration. She will work with Brenda Yeoh, with the Asian Migration cluster, at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS).



Matt Withers
‘ research concerns patterns of migration-underdevelopment in South Asia, specifically exploring experiences of temporary labour migration from Sri Lanka, their relationship with structures of uneven development, and their intersectionality with economies of gender and ethnicity. He will be co-supervised by Deborah Brennan and Rianne Mahon at the Social Policy Research Centre of the University of New South Wales.



JieLan Xu
‘s research interests include built environment and health, urban form, spatial analysis, and survey data analysis. Her PhD research focuses on spatial patterns and neighborhood contexts of aging-in-place across Canada, and analyzing activity participation of aging populations from a life-course perspective. She will work with Andre Sorenson and Ito Peng at the University of Toronto.





Fresh off the press: Gender, Migration, and the Work of Care

December 14, 2017

We are proud to announce the publication of the edited volume Gender, Migration, and the Work of Care: A Multi-Scalar Approach to the Pacific Rim by Palgrave Macmillan, in August 2017.

Our book is getting a lot of well-deserved attention. The electronic version of the book has already been downloaded 539 times, and a dozen reviewers from major journals now have our book in their hands. We are eagerly awaiting reviews.

This book is edited by Sonya Michel and Ito Peng, both affiliates of the Centre for Global Social Policy . The international group of authors in this collection include some of the most prominent scholars currently working in the field of gender, migration and care: Eileen Boris, Monica Boyd, Deborah Brennan, André Laliberté, Rianne Mahon, Shahra Razavi and Fiona Williams, among others. They share research undertaken as part of the SSHRC funded Partnership Project entitled Gender, Migration, and the Work of Care.

The book explores how around the world, women’s increased presence in the labor force has reorganized the division of labor in households, affecting regions in different ways depending on their cultures, economies, and politics, as well as the nature and size of their welfare states and the gendering of employment opportunities. As one result, the authors find, women are increasingly migrating from the Global South to become care workers in the Global North.

This volume focuses on changing patterns of family and gender relations, migration, and care work in the countries surrounding the Pacific Rim—a global epicenter of transnational care migration. Using a multi-scalar approach that addresses micro, meso, and macro levels, chapters examine three domains: care provisioning, the supply of and demand for care work, and the shaping and framing of care. The analysis reveals that via care, multiple forms of global inequalities are now playing out in the most intimate of spaces.

For more information, please go to:



BIG IDEAS COMPETITION: Exploring Global Taiwan

December 6, 2017

CALL FOR IDEAS 2017-2018

We are looking for motivated students to carry out their outstanding research and creative projects in Taiwan. Whether you are in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences, the Big Ideas Competition is an opportunity to create and experiment in a new environment. The possibilities are endless! For example, your project could be a documentary film about Taipei’s changing neighbourhoods; a study of the butterfly species endemic to the island, or an investigation of Asia’s most vibrant democracy. The only constraint is your imagination.

Students will be supported in the application process through a series of workshops between January and April 2018, which will cover: conceiving a winning idea; writing a successful proposal, and idea execution through project management. Students are welcome to apply as individuals or as a team.


THREE CAMPUSES ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY. Proposals will be adjudicated based on creativity, feasibility, and quality. Students’ academic records and background training may factor in the deliberation. Award amounts are normally up to $4000 for individuals or $7000 for teams.

Students will prepare for the competition through several workshops providing feedback and guidance from faculty and advisors between January 2017 and April 2018. From May to July, students will have the opportunity to travel to Taiwan for up to 21 days to conduct research and put their proposals into action. In August, students will write up their final reports. The program will culminate in September 2018 with public presentations by student awardees at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Draft Proposal Submission Deadline: January 10, 2018, 4:00PM

Final Application: January 31, 2018, 4:00PM

For more details visit:

Contact me with any questions: Shannon Garden-Smith

Assistant to the Director; Special Projects Coordinator Asian Institute

1 Devonshire Place, Room 227N Munk School of Global Affairs

Insight Through Asia Challenge

December 6, 2017

CALL FOR IDEAS 2017-2018


The Richard Charles Lee Insights through Asia Challenge (ITAC) is a flagship experiential learning program at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs.

This year, ITAC invites students to research the theme of MOBILITIES in Asia today. We call on ALL U OF T STUDENTS (UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE) who want to apply classroom learning to fieldwork in Asia. Students are welcome to apply as individuals or in small teams and can propose to create their field research as a policy report, a journal article, a documentary film, a large-scale event, or something else entirely. Award amounts are normally $2000-$7000.

Most importantly, projects must be fully grounded in academic research. Projects may address issues relevant to particular localities in East, Southeast, or South Asia, or issues connecting multiple places. These projects should address a specific issue within the broad theme of mobilities (e.g., circulations of people, commodities, money, ideas and ideologies) in the context of larger forces (e.g., global markets, socio-politics, emerging technologies and digital spaces, the environment, health, etc.).

Students will prepare for the challenge through several workshops providing feedback and guidance from faculty and advisors between January 2017 and April 2018. From May to July, students will have the opportunity to travel to Asia for up to 21 days to conduct research and put their proposals into action. In August, students will write up their final reports. The program will culminate in September 2018 with public presentations by student awardees at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Draft Proposal Submission Deadline: January 10, 2018, 4:00PM

Final Application: January 31, 2018, 4:00PM

For more information visit:

 me with any questions: Shannon Garden-Smith

Assistant to the Director; Special Projects Coordinator Asian Institute

1 Devonshire Place, Room 227N

Munk School of Global Affairs